Editors note. The player I wrote about in this piece, was Darrell Rasner, whose contract has since been sold by The Yankees to Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of The Japanese League. Rasner now makes roughly $1.2 million a year and . . . they don’t heckle in Japan. This was originally posted last year, but thought I would re-post it today (even if it’s a little on the late side)
The other night (Actually June 10th, 2008) I was at The A’s game with my four-year-old son. They were playing The Yankees and we were sitting on the first base, visiting side. The row in front of us was occupied with people wearing black, so it was a foregone conclusion in my mind that they were Yankee fans, which filled nearly half the stadium.My son and I had brought a bicycle horn with us which we used as a rally horn. Well it was slightly obnoxious and it worked pretty well as The A’s scored six runs in the fourth inning. As is my custom at games, I heckle the opposing team and the severity of it depends on who I am with and how much alcohol I’ve consumed. That night I had had just one beer and was with my young son, so it was the Disney version of insults and yet, I must have been pretty effective, because aftter I had loudly proclaimed that “the pitcher needed to return to the minors,” the guy sitting in front of me, turns and barks, “Enough is enough. That’s my boy out there and you’ve ridden him pretty hard since the game started. Just leave it alone.”
I was shocked.
The pitcher was his son!
He then punctuated his loyalty by telling me that he had had a fair amount to drink and was in no mood for my heckling.
I reached around and patted him on the chest and told him that, “If I had known it was your son, I would not have been so hard on him” and that, “I wished his son nothing but the best.” Mercifully, he took an early shower, thanks in part to a terrible play at first by Jason (pornstache) Giambi which ignited The A’s six-run-rally (lots of horn blasts!!).
When it became clear that this was The A’s night, we packed up and left a little early ourselves.
Much to my surprise, I met the pitchers father on the BART platform. He told me that “God brought me back so that he could apologize” and that, “He felt like and ass.” We talked about his son’s career and how he got to pitch for The Yankees. Again, I wished him and his son well.
Being a father, albeit at the opposite end of the child rearing spectrum, I could relate to this man. If that were my boy struggling in front of 30,000 people and if the guy behind me was even good naturedly ribbing him, I’d probably say something as well. In fact, I’d probably think a little less of this dad if I had known that the pitcher was his son and he had said nothing at all, because even if his anger was a little over-the-top, it was a meter for how much he loved his kid. He was still the little boy that he played catch with and probably taught to throw a curve and rode to get good grades, stay clean and all of the other tough things a parent must do in order to not only promote success but ensure a safe arrival to adulthood. His was a primal response to a member of his tribe, a close bond united by blood and nearly half a lifetime. I respected his fierceness in the face of even mild heckling. While it might have made his kid cringe a little to know what had transpired, he no doubt would have also been thankful that the one guy who stuck up for him in his moment of defeat, was the same guy that had stuck up for him for all of his life–his dad.
As Fathers Day arrives, a fake, Hallmark holiday that I usually try avoid like Bird Flu, it will have a different meaning for me this year as I remember the semi-soaked, fraternal bond between two dads who had brought both of their kids to a basball game.